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Morning tip: No way Wizards could lose to Sixers? Wrong


Morning tip: No way Wizards could lose to Sixers? Wrong

PHILADELPHIA -- Exactly one year later, the Wizards are in a similar position -- reeling in the stretch run of the season and with a game against the worst team in the NBA on tap. Lose to the 76ers tonight, and the 2015-16 season could be a wrap despite the mathematics (Coverage starts tonight at 7 on CSN Plus and NBC Sports Live Extra).

In 2015, the Wizards marched into Wells Fargo Arena after having lost a game they had no business losing on the road to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the worst team in the West at the time. It was by 20. Two days later, on Feb. 27, they met a Sixers team that was so bad that the 89-81 loss felt like at least 20.

The difference then, however, was because of a 22-8 start to the season, the Wizards were firmly planted in the playoff picture at 33-26. The only question that remained was their seeding in the East.

That's not the case now, after they inexplicably lost at the Chicago Bulls on 109-104 on Wednesday to drop to 26-30. A team that was downtrodden and riddled with injuries to most of their best players scored 57 in the first half alone and ended the game shooting 50%. 

"It's a wasted opportunity that we should've taken advantage of," point guard John Wall said. "But we didn't. It happened to us before in this situation."

Last week, the Wizards lost to the Miami Heat in a similar fashion. It was the third game in three nights, but it was another depleted team (minus Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade) and they still were blown out 114-94.


There's no such thing as an easy victory that can be chalked up prematurely for the Wizards. They could have the edge in tiebreakers with the Bulls and Heat with the better head-to-head record in a tight playoff race but instead are 1-1 and 2-2 in those season series.

It's a self-destructive streak that coach Randy Wittman is at wit's end about. If a team is down and almost out, the Wizards have a tendency to bring them back to life.

There were the 22- and 37-point loses to the lowly Brooklyn Nets last season. Earlier this season, the Charlotte Hornets were dead to rights twice on their own floor and eventually lost both (one by scoring just six points in the fourth quarter) and trail in a seasons series that they should lead 3-0. 

Turn back the clock two years, when the Boston Celtics walked into Verizon Center with this starting five: Phil Pressey, Jared Sullinger, Jeff Green, Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries. The Wizards, in the midst of a playoffs-or-else edict from owner Ted Leonsis and struggling go finally get over .500, were beaten in overtime 113-111.

How did this happen? Rajon Rondo was out. Pressey, an undrafted rookie point guard who never had more than seven points in a game up to then, went for 20. Wall had a hollow triple-double with 28 points (on 29 shots), 11 rebounds and 10 assists because he turned it into a game of one-on-one. The Wizards dropped to 20-21.

Even on Feb. 5 this season, the Wizards didn't close out the game properly with Philadelphia when a 34-point lead was trimmed to single digits late in the fourth quarter.

Make no mistake, the Sixers (8-49) are historically bad. Their wins have come vs. the Phoenix Suns (twice), L.A. Lakers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Sacramento Kings, Orlando Magic, Portland Trail Blazers and Nets. 

The only team that currently has a winning record among that bunch is Portland (30-28). If the Wizards aren't careful, they'll be able to add themselves to this list and the loss to the Bulls would pale in comparison.

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Phil Chenier tells stories ahead of his jersey retirement

Associated Press

Wizards Tipoff podcast: Phil Chenier tells stories ahead of his jersey retirement

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, host Chase Hughes was joined by Bullets/Wizards legend Phil Chenier ahead of his jersey retirement set for this upcoming weekend on March 23.

Chenier looked back on his playing and broadcasting career and told great stories. He also shared some memories of the 1978 championship as the franchise gets ready to honor its 40th anniversary.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!

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Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue stepping away from team to deal with health issues

USA Today Sports Images

Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue stepping away from team to deal with health issues

An undiagnosed illness has convinced Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue to step away from the team indefinitely, the team announced on Monday. Assistant coach Larry Drew will take over in the interim.

Lue, 40, is hoping to address his health issues in time to return before the year is out. According to a statement on the team's website, he has been under the weather for quite some time.


Here is what Lue said on the matter in a press release:

I have had chest pains and other troubling symptoms, compounded by a loss of sleep, throughout the year. Despite a battery of tests, there have been no conclusions as to what the exact issue is.

While I have tried to work through it, the last thing I want is for it to affect the team. I am going to use this time to focus on a prescribed routine and medication, which has previously been difficult to start in the midst of a season. My goal is to come out of it a stronger and healthier version of myself so I can continue to lead this team to the Championship we are all working towards.

That is scary stuff and certainly much bigger than basketball. But the surprising news happens to come at a crucial time in the Cavs' season. They are currently third in the Eastern Conference with only 13 games remaining before the playoffs.


The Cavs are just a half-game ahead of both the Wizards and Pacers in the standings. They will also have to reincorporate All-Star Kevin Love, likely sometime this week. 

That is a lot for Drew to deal with while Lue recovers and it adds another wrinkle to a Cavs' season that has been characterized by change.


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